Continued speculation revolves around what the Chicago Blackhawks front office is conjuring. The rumor mill is at max-power, while fans sit in mass confusion.
Celebrating their first Stanley Cup in 49 years only lasts so long. The honeymoon period is not quite like a marriage. While fans remain passionate to recent accomplishments, the realism is that hockey is business.
The Hawks have very little salary cap room to work with ($1.2 million). This would be the ideal amount to be at when the puck drops next season. Unfortunately, the Hawks are looking to fill five or six more positions with that little of money. It becomes more of who can we get rid of to save space, rather than who can we bring in to fill free agency voids.
So who is the number one candidate to trade?
Dustin Byfuglien, the man that became a one-man, Stanley Cup-bound freight-train of destruction in Vancouver and San Jose. While many know Big Buff for the final series match-up with Chris Pronger in Philadelphia, the Blackhawks front office has undoubtedly taken notice of his trendiness performance. In the playoffs, Byfuglien accounted for 11 goals and five assists. In addition, five of the goals were game-winners.
Unfortunately, the numbers weren’t as impressive during the regular season. He provided 17 goals and 17 assists, hardly the production you want to see for a player getting paid $3 million.
While also having the capability to contribute on defense helps, what it does add is trade value. After the playoffs he had, his stock will never be higher. Trading him will demand a quality draft pick in return, and that is all the Hawks could ask for right now.
Filling in his ability isn’t the issue the Hawks will face. The space on the rink is what may be hardest to fill.
Prospects such as Kyle Beach and Brian Bickell have more than enough skill to optimize on rebounds. The height is there, but both will need to add weight to be effective the way Byfuglien was. They will demand less for ideally providing the same numbers as Byfuglien did.
While the future for Byfuglien could be bright, the Blackhawks don’t need to take any risks they can’t afford. Trading now would seem like the best option and would open up the much needed cap space. Power forwards can be replaced much more easily than the likes of a Patrick Sharp.
The face-off circle can win or lose games, and I don’t see Big Buff throwing his weight into the circle anytime soon.